Cutting tools

- rotary cutter ( I prefer Olfa 45mm)

- cutting mat (minimum size 16" x 24")

- long ruler, which usually comes with the cutting mat

- square ruler 9 1/2"x 9 1/2"

- small scissors for appliqué

- large scissors for mainly cutting batting

- markers

I hardly ever use any other tool than the basic cutting tools above and you won't either, so save your money for fabrics and batting. You can also see a Dresden ruler in the right corner. These are the only cutting tools I have and use.

Cutting strips

Iron the fabric and place it on your cutting mat with the folded edge parallel to the vertical lines of the board. (see image below) 

You can place 2-3 fabrics on your mat at the same time, but align them carefully.

Place the ruler on top and align the upper edge of the ruler with a horizontal line of the mat and trim off the uneven edge.

Move the ruler upward aligning a horizontal line (the size you wish to cut) of your ruler to the bottom of the fabric and cut the strip. 

Lift your ruler and slide the strip downward. Repeat the steps to cut more strips.

  

When you cut multiple strips, the fabric can slip. If that happens just adjust your fabric. 

If the folded edge is not parallel to the vertical lines the unfolded strip will look like the strip below. 

You won't be able to use this strip for border, but squares or rectangles cut from this strip will not be accurate either.

Cutting squares, rectangles and triangles

Turn your ruler with 90° to the right. Align the top edge of your ruler with a vertical line and trim off the uneven edge. 

Move the ruler to the right and align with a vertical line (the size you wish to cut). Cut squares or rectangles. From the folded fabric strip you will always cut two pieces with one cut.

You can further cut your squares and rectangles into triangles if needed.

Cut squares in half diagonally once to get two triangles.

Cut squares in half diagonally twice to get four triangles.           

The cut is usually indicated in the pattern and it depends on the orientation of the piece within the block. See examples below.

   cut square in half diagonally once                      cutsquares in half diagonally twice                          

One of the reasons of the two different cutting type is avoiding bias at the edge of the block (bias edges tend to stretch). 

The other reason is the print orientation (in case the fabric is printed). See examples below   

  cut the squres in half diagonally once for this block

 cut the squres in half diagonally twice for this block

Please take note of the orientation of the bycicles below showing two half-square triangles pieced with triangles of different cuts.

Accurate cutting is the first essential step to accurate piecing, so take your time and "measure twice and cut once"